Marine units resume search for driver in Schuylkill River

September 30, 2011 3:03:37 PM PDT
A full day of searching Friday did not turn up the body of a woman who is presumed to have drowned after driving directly into the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is hosting a Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday with thousands of people expected on the river. With that in mind police focused on trying to find the missing body, concerned it could surface on its own during the festivities.

So far, they have not had any luck.

Witnesses say the woman's car sped across Kelly Drive, smashed through a retaining wall, and plunged into the river Thursday afternoon.

The driver managed to get out of the car, screamed for help, but was swept away by the current.

A tow truck pulled the 2008 silver Mercury Grand Marquis out last night.

The woman behind the wheel was not the owner of the car. Police have talked to the owner, however, and he allegedly told them he had lent the Mercury to a friend.

Police say until they are certain that it was the friend at the wheel, they will not release the name.

Alvin Bates witnessed the incident. He tells us, "She was like, coming up - bobbing up and down. But there was nothing nobody could do man. And it's a sad thing for somebody to die like that."

The river search is aided by a small, boat-mounted sonar unit. The officers watch the sonar's display, looking for a shadow that might be a body under the water. Given the current, the search extended as much as a mile downstream.

Philadelphia police Lt. Andrew Napoli explains, "Unless the body gets snagged on some type of debris underwater, she's down river somewhere. We just don't know where."

There has been nothing on the sonar screens that has been cause for police to call for divers at this point. So, the sonar search continues.

Still unanswered is why the car didn't stop. Police will conduct a mechanical inspection of the car, looking for a stuck accelerator or faulty brakes.


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